The 10th anniversary of Seattle University's Center for Service and Community Engagement May 15 was rich with memories and kudos. The Spirit of Community celebration in Campion Ballroom drew students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors, community partners and even a group of prospective students from Portland.
Center Director Kent Koth, who also leads the Seattle University Youth Initiative, recalled how a speech given in 2000 by Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., then Superior General of the Jesuits, inspired him about Seattle U when he applied for his job 10 years ago. Koth quoted a line from Kolvenbach's talk that is also on the wall at the center: "When the heart is touched by direct experience the mind may be challenged to change."
"In so many ways," Koth told the crowd of more than 200, "this one line is what brings all of us together today.
"There is one individual with us who was present to hear Father Kolvenbach say those words. And wow … this person really took it to heart."
Koth described how President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., advocated for the center's creation in 2003 "as a means to deepen student learning and expand the university's commitment to service and justice in the wider community."
Father Sundborg credited Executive Vice President Tim Leary, who came along in 2002 as vice president for student development, with urging him to develop more robust community engagement. He said Leary was willing to offer up an open position to address this concern.
"That's when Kent was hired and the center began," Father Sundborg recalled, adding, "In 2004-05, there were nine students who committed a full year to serve, learn and lead. We now have more than 250 students who commit to that."
Father Sundborg received a special recognition award for his vision, commitment and belief in the service of faith and the promotion of justice. A Founders Award went to the Shinnyo-en Foundation and Rev. Naruhiko Yoshida, temple manager of Shinnyo-en USA Seattle Temple. Since 2005, this foundation has continued to provide support for hundreds of SU students who participate in year-long leadership and service programs, summer fellowships and one-time experiences. Of equal significance - dozens of SU students and staff have joined the Shinnyo-en Foundation staff and others for retreats and conversations to explore concepts of service across faith and cultural traditions.
Carol Ann Barnickol, who served as a University Regent for many years, and since 2012 has been an advisory board member of the Youth Initiative, also was honored with a Founders Award.
"Her insights, support and thoughtful questions have contributed significantly to the university, particularly to our work to connect the campus and community. What is particularly remarkable is that Carol Ann rarely misses a meeting even though she lives in St. Louis, Missouri," Koth said.
Lisa Gustaveson, program manager of the School of Theology and Ministry's Faith and Homelessness Project, was honored with the staff award for her dedication to building connections and mobilizing communities to house families experiencing homelessness.
In addition to Gustaveson, other Spirit of Community Award winners included: Frank Shih, associate professor of mechanical engineering, for his successful efforts, with the help of SU's Bannan Scholars, to improve science test scores at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School; Jane Deer-Hileman, director of volunteer services at Jewish Family Service of Seattle who mentors SU interns, volunteers and service learning students; Cobretti Williams and MJ Jones, both '14 graduates of the student development administration master's program for their tireless and compassionate social justice work; and undergraduate award winner Duron Jones, '14, business, for his dedication to education equity and his work at Middle College High School.